5 Tips for Halloween Safety | Revere Health

Kids celebrate while they tally their final take on Halloween night.  However, as a family physician, I know that for many parents, the celebration doesn’t start until their youngsters make it through another Halloween, safe and sound. 

Here are five children’s Halloween safety issues to be aware of:

Choking on Candy

Many parents are surprised at the number of children who require emergency care for choking incidents.  Forbes reports that 12,435 kids receive ER treatment every year for choking injuries.

Candy is responsible for almost 30 percent of these incidents.  What’s the biggest culprit? Hard candy. It’s responsible for nearly half of candy choking incidents.

Choking is a possibility when solid food goes into a narrow part of a child’s airway and becomes stuck.  For young children, choking is a particular risk because their air passages are small. They lack the experience of older children when it comes to chewing, and they love to put things into their mouths.  

While coughing might dislodge a mild blockage, a child typically can’t clear a severe one without medical help, Safety Training Pros points out.

How can parents help prevent choking on Halloween candy?

  • Teach children how to chew thoroughly and to swallow food before laughing or talking.
  • Never allow them to run around with candy or gum in their mouths.
  • Check your child’s Halloween stash before allowing any sampling.
  • Only allow young children to consume candy in your presence.
  • Store trick-or-treat candy in a spot regulated by an adult.
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    Dressing for the Weather

    October nights mean falling temperatures. While trying to create the perfect costume, it’s easy to overlook how to stay warm while looking like a child’s favorite character.  However, there are several ways to avoid exposure and still have a memorable costume.

    Tights are an ideal way to keep children warm when they’re outside for extended periods.  Tights come in a variety of colors to work with all sorts of costumes. 

  • To keep feet warm, shoes should have closed toes.  Boots offer even more protection.

Kids often object to wearing a coat or a jacket over their costumes while trick-or-treating or traveling to a party.  Pondering what their character might wear is a one way to come up with acceptable outerwear.  For example, a leather-look jacket works well with a military costume.  Pastel capes can keep ballerinas and fairies warm. I also want to stress the importance of keeping your child’s head warm.  Consider wigs, which come in all sorts or colors and styles and serve as effective hats.

Carving Pumpkins

Most kids love decorating pumpkins.  I advise parents to take specific precautions to avoid a trip to the emergency room:

  • Don’t let your children wield knives. The danger of cutting themselves or others is far too great. KidsHealth suggests letting a child use a marker to draw the design on the pumpkin that an older family member will carve.
  • During carving, make sure children maintain a safe distance from the pumpkin.  Accidents can happen not only when they’re in the way of a carving knife, but also when they get in the way of the person who’s carving.
  • Let kids get a bit messy by scooping out the flesh of the pumpkin with their hands or a metal scoop instead of using a knife for this task.
  • Avoid falls by cleaning up any spilled pumpkin flesh, which is usually slippery.
  • Candles in pumpkins are unsafe.  A glow stick is a better choice.

Tackling Food Allergies

Food allergies can be a major safety issue for some children at Halloween.  Unfortunately, many treats contain ingredients to which lots of kids are allergic, among them milk, chocolate, eggs, wheat and soy.  Many children with food allergies also suffer from asthma, which can sometimes be aggravated by the colder weather. 

What can you do to prevent problems with a child’s food allergies?  Everyday Health offers some excellent ideas:

  • Substitute non-food treats like stickers or small toys.
  • Feed children a meal or even a snack beforehand to dampen temptation.
  • Make sure a child with an allergy has epinephrine and any other important medications while trick-or-treating.
  • Don’t allow the child to consume any food treats without a label that shows the ingredients, and check those labels carefully in a well-lit area at home.
  • Place some “safe” food treats in your home on trick-or-treat night.
  • Let your child’s school know about food allergies if you anticipate a Halloween party.
  • Go with your children trick-or-treating.
  • Invest in coaching kids on how to say “no” to off-limits items.
  • Set an example by handing out allergen-free treats throughout your neighborhood before Halloween.

Staying Safe in the Dark

Most Halloween revelry occurs at night.  Children traveling in the dark to trick-or-treat or attend a party face an elevated risk of injury.  After accidents, many require treatment in the emergency room or in my office after the holiday.  Safe Kids Worldwide states that kids are two times as likely to be killed by a motor vehicle on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year.

I always advise parents that taking even simple steps can help children stay safe at night.  Some useful suggestions include:

  • Always accompany a child younger than 12.
  • Remind kids to never to cross a street without looking twice in each direction, to cross only at corners, and to help younger children navigate a crossing.
  • Equip kids with lights they can wear and reflective tape affixed to clothing.  Each child old enough to carry a flashlight with fresh batteries should have one.
  • Tell children to always walk, not run, on sidewalks on lit streets.  They should avoid cutting across lawns or going through alleys and should visit only homes with exterior lights on.
  • Caution children to never enter the vehicle or the home of a stranger.
  • Make sure unaccompanied older kids attending a nighttime party give you their route plus contact information for the hosts.  They should also understand when you expect them home.  Consider outfitting them with a cell phone for regular check-ins.

Following these Halloween tips is one step toward keeping your family safe from harm.  As the father of four and a physician, I understand how important regular care is in keeping families healthy.  Revere family medicine combines a broad range of disciplines to care for all members of your family with friendly, individualized attention, outstanding communication, and long-term relationships.  

About Abe Tomco, MD

As a physician, I love helping people through stressful times when they may be sick or hurt. It really helps people to have someone they can trust when making an important medical decision. I love teaching people about healthy lifestyles and showing them how they can prevent a future illness. The patient should receive all the information they need to be an equal partner in decision-making and feel empowered about caring for their body. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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